Cobble Hill Photographer Turns Pets Into Supermodels

By Nikhita Venugopal on November 25, 2013 9:21am 

COBBLE HILL — It started with a blue-eyed dog.

Soon after moving from Switzerland to Brooklyn, Sophie Gamand, a French photographer, wandered into the Cobble Hill Animal Clinic. She was hoping to find a subject for a photography class assignment.

While she was searching for a human model, her eye, and lens, caught a blue-eyed dog peeking around the corner with a troubled look that’s probably reserved for the vet’s office.

“He looked so out of place and worried,” she said.

She snapped a picture of him and started her journey into pet photography.

Gamand spent the year photographing animals and, in 2011, she started Striking Paws, a Cobble Hill photography studio, exploring the bond between human and dogs.

“There’s so much that can be said about the life that dogs have in the city,” she said. "This is almost an urban jungle for dogs."

Aside from private shoots, Gamand compiles photographic series like “At the Vet,” “Wet Dog,” “Dog Vogue” and she’s already planning more collections like an homage to terminally ill or aged animals.

Gamand has also worked with several rescue groups and animal shelters including the Sato Project, a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to rescuing abandoned and abused animals from Puerto Rico.

While pet photography is a recent professional venture for Gamand, she’s been taking pictures of animals for almost her entire life.

At 10, she would often capture photos of her dogs and dress up her rabbit for studio shoots.

“Basically, I was doing bunny fashion photography,” she said.

Over the last three years, she’s worked with dozens of dogs and cats, learning a few tricks to getting her furry models to behave.

She avoids coddling the animals, but rather stays playful and assertive and, more often than not, they’ll listen.

Gamand said she even prefers working with unruly dogs that will fidget, yawn, bark or pant during photo shoots. Rambunctious pets are more creative subjects, she said.

“I really want the dog to feel like it’s playing,” said Gamand, adding that photo shoots often turn into a bonding session between pets and their owners.

For more information on Striking Paws, visit this website or email contact@strikingpaws.com.

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